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Jeff’s Corner

Three days ago last Sunday, while working my last shift in the now old Main Street location, an older gentleman walked up the two steps with a little help from a cane and a metal right leg from the knee down.

He wore a purple hat that read “Purple Heart Vietnam” with some embroidery on it, and a purple shirt with the Marine Corps logo over his heart, and around it in small print the same wording as his cap.

I smiled, offered him some wine, and told him it would be an honor to shake his hand. He smiled as we did and said thanks, but a beer tasting was more his style. He walked out the door with four generations of his family.

My mind drifted back to the story I wrote last year for Memorial Day weekend. I planned to repost it this year, and now it is deja vu all over again. I’m proud to be able to share all this...

“The door opened at the wine shop last Sunday on Main Street, and a much older man made his way up the two steps bent over his walker. He was sporting a brand new black cap with “U. S. Marines” embroidered on it in gold letters. He was followed by two younger guys.

They walked up to the tasting bar and one of the younger gentleman said, ”This is my Grandfather, we just came from the Pacific War Museum. My Grandpa landed on the beach at Iwo Jima, fought the entire battle, and would like to try some wine."

I wasn't serving them, but I interrupted and told him it would be an honor to shake his hand, and that he was a hero. He looked at me with a sparkle in his eyes and a firm handshake, saying that he graduated from high school in San Antonio in 1942 and couldn't wait to join the Marine Corps.

Today starts Memorial Day Weekend, a holiday, but every year I take a step back to think about why we have the freedom to take this day off. We are honoring more soldiers that have died for us than we could ever imagine.

Memorial Day celebrations began after the Civil War to honor both the Union and Confederate dead. It was called “Decoration Day” which continued the tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers.

To me, this day has nothing to do with politics and hawks and doves. Looking into the eyes of that Marine last Sunday, I didn’t see an older man with most of his life behind him; I saw a young kid trying to suppress a fear very few of us could ever comprehend. He was charging up a forsaken beach in the Pacific Ocean for his generation, and our generations to come...”

Jeff's Corner

Once again, Hello, Hello, Hello

Here are some words I wrote about the 2013 Cabernet Trois in Jeff’s Corner last July:

“I worry when I keep talking in superlatives about Jason’s wine, but the ‘13 is truly world class. It just came home from the Long Beach California Grand Cru competition with a Gold Medal. For a young wine, or any wine for that matter, it shows finesse and balance that is off the charts. I’m going to buy a case.”

Well, now it’s almost time to say goodbye, but not before it became perhaps my all-time favorite GCV wine. In January it won a double gold medal at the elite San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and I finally bought that case last week.

I must be becoming fickle in my older age, because the 2014 Cabernet Trois is my new favorite, before the ’13 has even made its curtain call. We tasted it at the staff meeting last Saturday morning (I know, rough meeting!), and it paired really well with our breakfast tacos. Jason and crew has done it again.

Last Monday evening, Kathy and I sat on our porch for a more formal taste, and this time there aren’t superlatives enough to describe this beauty. The blend this vintage is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc, 8% Ruby Cabernet, 4.5% Merlot, and 1.5% Sangiovese. The alcohol by volume is 13.8%.

The color is ruby/cherry, and it appears only lightly filtered. I don’t usually make a big deal over legs (at least where wine is concerned), but these are near perfect with tight, well-spaced, and slow moving rivulets.

On the nose and palate the new ’14 Cab Trois exudes a silky elegance, with early aromas of rich black cherry, clove, allspice, and cinnamon. As the wine opens up, layers of red licorice and raspberry emerge with hints of cocoa, cedar, and tobacco. It is both understated and complex at the same time.

Showing great balance between fruit and structure, the finish lingers on our palate long after the wine is gone. Generous amounts of oak combine with firm tannins and brisk acids to promise even more complexity as the wine matures.

I’ve always loved Cabernet Trois’ versatility with food, often joking that it would pair well with anything from pizza to prime rib. Let’s dress this one up, however, and try it with a blackened strip steak finished with roasted garlic and a compound Gorgonzola butter.

We’ll see you next week; get your hankies out...

It’s hard to believe we have been open a full year at Grape Creek Vineyards! It has flown by. What a great experience it has been. Just to think, this location started with a food truck.

I started driving out to the Texas Wine Country with the Stout’s Pizza Truck in 2012, and it wasn't long before Grape Creek became one of our favorite vineyards. We started to have a great following and became a staple on Saturdays. Getting to know Brian Heath, the owner of Grape Creek Vineyards, was an absolute joy and before long, we had this wild and crazy idea to do a permanent location.

After some wine and number crunching and a year of construction... Stout’s at Grape Creek Trattoria opened in May 2015. The appreciable response from the masses has given us confidence to open a third location. Stout’s Pizza Co. will be in New Braunfels late this summer!

I am really excited about the direction and future of this company. I love making great pizza, and I love drinking great wine. I wanted to thank Brian and Jason at Grape Creek for helping my dream come true of having my very own wine. Stout’s Sangiovese 2014 will be released this year.

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